Features | Written by STARBURST 29/08/2014


In honour of the recent release of SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR, the STARBURST writers put their heads together to compile what we consider is the ULTIMATE FEMME FATALES LIST. Beware of these beauties!



Look the word “bitch” up in an illustrated dictionary and you might just find a picture of Kathryn there. This beautiful, privileged, rich, spoiled, venomous, evil and manipulative woman will do anything (and anyone) to get her own vicious way. She’ll set up just about anybody who crosses her line of sight in a love triangle of her making, just for sheer amusement. She has the goods and knows how to use them. She’ll even set up her own lecherous and egotistical stepbrother by means of seduction to do exactly what she pleases. Yes, admittedly, she bears a passing resemblance to Sunnydale’s famous vampire hunter, but she’s more of a soul-sucking parasite than anything Miss Summers managed to put under the ground! And like those monsters from Buffy – her confidence was her undoing. That, and a Holy Cross pendant – albeit hollowed out and filled with her stash of cocaine. | RP



Marion Cotillard provides her European sass within Chris Nolan's largely American cast, prompting a flicker of concern from DiCaprio's otherwise bold lead character, Dom Cobb.  As Mal, she beckons her one true love with an unpredictability that sharpens the tone and emotional depth of Inception. Deadly and crazed, the scene in which she looms out of a hotel window enlists the disbelief of her husband Dom, not only endangering his life but also his humanity. Trapped within the dream sequences, she haunts and steals every scene in which she exists, keeping the audience fixed in their positions and offering moments of true horror.  In the pantheon of great femme fatales, this study of a vulnerable psyche creates a richly unique acting role that moulds the science fiction and drama into a memorable piece of cinema. | DS



Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) is perhaps the most considerate of the killers on this list: if she’s taking you out, you’re going out with a, ahem, bang. The ex-Soviet fighter pilot turned Janus agent proves to be Bond’s match on every level - her introduction in GoldenEye sees her Ferrari besting Bond’s Aston Martin and then again at the Baccarat table, her skills overshadowed only by her sexual allure. It is the mix of her deadly skillset and combustible sexual prowess that finds Xenia on this list. Though her proficiency as a fighter pilot makes her an integral part of the plot, it is her preferred method of killing that raises eyebrows; her thighs wrapped around her prey, crushing their chest cavities, suffocating them, herself writhing in orgasmic pleasure. An indulgent M.O. paints the character a mystery. Much like her drink order though, Xenia Onatopp is the classic femme fatale; straight up, with a twist. | KS

17. SIL

(SPECIES; 1995)


Before Scarlett Johansson's alien seductress in Under the Skin, there was Sil. In Species, a group of scientists are tricked into splicing alien DNA with that of a human, resulting in Sil. A beautiful, intelligent and deadly hybrid intent on mating with a human - and probably bring about the end of the human race. Sil was played by the stunning Natasha Henstridge, who made the idea of being horribly killed by a half-alien kind of sexy. Henstridge would later commit more unspeakable horrors, like marrying Darius from Popstars. It took a team comprised of Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina and Forest Whitaker to bring her down, but she still managed to come back for two sequels despite having her head blown off. Your move, Scarlett…




Most people know the character of Santanico Pandemonium for Salma Hayak’s portrayal in Robert Rodriguez’s film. A curvaceous, exotic specimen, Santanico dances her way into many a man’s heart. Thing is, that’s all a front, as she’s really a Vampire Queen who uses the Titty Twister as the perfect spot to find herself some new blood. Whether she’s wearing a snake as a necklace or serving tequila-à la-leg, this is one lady that you don’t want to mess with. She went on to appear in the sequels and, more recently, in Rodriguez’s TV show of the same name. Santanico’s hips seem to spellbind men, whilst her actions leave them fighting for their life. If you drop into the Titty Twister any time soon, this is one dancer that you’d best leave a decent tip for. | AP




In terms of using manipulation and mind games to their advantage, Linda Fiorentino’s Bridget is as good as it gets. After she darts off with $700,000 worth of drug money from her husband, she stops at a small town and openly aims to use a local yokel for her own sexual satisfaction. Smitten with Bridget, the unsuspecting Mike ends up becoming just another pawn in the plan of this single-minded sexpot. By the end of the movie, her husband is dead, her lover is incorrectly arrested for murder and rape, and Bridget rides off into the sunset with a large wedge of cash. And then came The Last Seduction II, a movie that is as poor as the first film is great, featuring none of the original cast members and with Joan Severance stepping into Bridget’s high heels. Lacking the plot depth and performances of the original, this Spanish-set sequel is a movie that many haven’t even heard of… and that’s likely for the best. | AP




I must be dreaming” murmurs Bond as he slouches back down inside the Lockheed Jet, 35,000ft over Newfoundland. He wakes to Goldfinger’s personal pilot standing guard over him; a flawless visage with dirty blonde, shoulder length hair.  She introduces herself; “My name is Pussy Galore”. And with that one of the most well revered Bond girls was born.  A character criminally underdeveloped in the film is beautifully fleshed out on the page of the 1959 novel and beyond. Pussy is the only female head of organised crime in the US; she leads a militia of lesbian cat-burglars known as ‘The Acrobats’ and later ‘The Cement Mixers’; she has violet eyes. With the help of Honor Blackman, Pussy’s strong, stubborn, and capable demeanour resulted in the character being voted the 2nd Best Bond Girl (Entertainment Weekly, 2007) of all time, her simmering, playful and almost condescending interactions with Bond finding fame themselves.  “I’m a damn good pilot. Period”, she replies when 007 questions her employment; and later, “You can turn off the charm” she says with a smirk, “I’m immune”. Of course she isn’t for long – though she does put up quite the fight (literally, there is judo involved, and it’s uncomfortable). | KS




As the archetypal femme fatale, Barbara Stanwyck's Phyllis Dietrichson has it all: flirty, beautiful, down-and-dirty sleazy, and deadly manipulative. Who thought a film about an insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) who, bewitched by her charms, gets wrapped up in the scheming broad's plans to off her husband, by taking out a policy without hubby's knowledge, and in making the murder look like an accident, trigger the titular clause on the policy, doubling the payout. Their plans are derailed when the ace claims adjuster played by Edward G. Robinson smells a (dirty) rat. Shot beautifully and moodily by Billy Wilder, it should be on everyone's watch list. | MU




Kim Bassinger is simply a stunning specimen of a woman. Put her in a role with even the remotest of sexual undertones and you’ll have most men’s’ attention for as long as it’s required. The brilliant L.A. Confidential was a huge launching pad for Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce, but Bassinger’s Bracken smouldered seductively in every scene she appeared in. A high-class call girl intended to look like Veronica Lake, Bracken ends up in a romantic relationship with Crowe’s Bud White whilst also getting intimate with White’s partner, Pearce’s Ed Exley. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’d be instructed to stir up this situation by the larger corrupt powers that oversee everything in this fantastic adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel of the same name. As Bracken herself says, “Some men get the world. Others get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona.” If they look like Lynn Bracken, our bags are packed and ready for Arizona. | AP

11. VERA

(DETOUR; 1945)


Vera (Ann Savage) is not a glamourous femme fatale figure with obvious sex appeal. She’s pretty, but hardly what you’d call a swell-looking babe. As Al Roberts (Tom Neal), Detour’s luckless fly to Vera’s black widow, describes her: “Man, she looked as if she’d just been thrown off the crummiest freight train in the world.Vera transcends the usual role afforded to women in 1940s noir dramas. The intensity with which Savage played her character is the stuff of Freudian nightmares. She is in complete control from the moment we meet her on the dusty road to Los Angeles. Vera is like a background figure in an Edward Hopper painting that was allowed, for the briefest moment, to take centre stage; or a deranged harridan from a Jim Thompson novel. It’s a performance unique in the world of film noir and one that is rightly praised and recognised as such, today. | MC




Sharon Stone’s Tramell is one of the most iconic femme fatales in modern cinema. A crime novelist with a penchant for spilling blood, this siren favours an ice pick as her weapon a choice. A conniving, maniacal bitch who truly rules the roost by using her smoking-hot body to get what she wants. That said, her character is most famous for doing the horizontal-hustle with somebody played by Michael Douglas; himself an open and honest sex addict. Nearly as famous as Douglas’ sex drive is Catherine Tramell’s notorious knack of not wearing underwear (known as the gratuitous beaver shot to you Loaded Weapon 1 fans), making sure she feels the full effect of every mild breeze. Tramell’s story was picked up 14 years later in 2006’s Basic Instinct II. Unfortunately for fans of the first film, the sequel’s overall package and product was as existent as Tramell’s underwear, aided none in the slightest by the early sight of footballer Stan Collymore’s arse going for gold. | AP




Mystique, until the recent prequel stories (kick-started by Matthew Vaughn’s First Class) expanded her backstory, was a literal mystery onscreen. However Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum first introduced the blue skinned, shape shifting, red-head mystique in the pages of Ms. Marvel #16 (1978) and since that point she has become a crucial part of the X-Men mythology, being a part of some pivotal comic book narrative arcs and being played by actresses Rebecca Romijn and Jenifer Lawrence, and voiced by the likes of Lena Headey and Jennifer Dale in animated form. Slinky, athletic and undeniably sexy, Mystique typifies the femme fatale- hell she nearly even killed Nixon in Days of Future Past. Still it is perhaps Bryan Singer’s very first X-Men film, where Mystique makes most of her impact, choking mutant hating agents out with her thighs one minute and then kicking Wolverine’s ass the next, what a gal! | JB




Star Trek may have skirted around sex appeal (those uniforms!) during the brilliant, if campy, classic era, but Alice Krige’s Borg Queen brought the erotic up-to-date with First Contact. For all intents and purposes, the Borg Queen was the franchise’s first and most erotic character (7 of 9 aside). Resembling one of Clive Barker’s cenobites as much as something conjured up by the late great H. R. Giger, whichever way you slice it, the Borg Queen is a highly sexualised being, which Krige always kept the right side of cheese. Like any femme fatale worth her stars, she’s an amalgam of sex appeal and menace. Her thrashing spine certainly contests to that, but it’s her seduction of Data that revs up the tension. Grafting living flesh onto his body, allowing him to feel both the pleasure of her touch and the sting of pain, was a stroke of mad genius. | DC




Looking like a steampunk Cruella De Vil, Blade Runner’s ‘basic pleasure model’ deserved far more screen-time in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. Icy, manipulative and presumably granted with the power of gymnastics during her creation, she’s the hunted android Replicant played by Daryl Hannah who’s both engaging and mysteriously creepy. We suppose those two go hand-in-hand when you sport spiked collars and bounce around rooms in clown make-up. Her standout scene? Probably when she blends into a room littered with mannequin dolls before throwing her thighs around Harrison Ford’s face. It also serves as her final moment before she bows out in style; blasted through the chest and left to uncontrollably spasm on the floor. It’s not the most dignified of exit’s for such a memorable femme fatale, but her  and minds of men everywhere. What a doll. | AS




Should you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Glasgow and a beautiful, friendly and flirty lone woman tries to entice you into a van with unspoken carnal promises, turn the other way and run as fast as you can for Buchanan Galleries. Although you may well find yourself back at her place (a derelict building infused with the spatial properties of the TARDIS) and drawn towards her by a mundane yet hypnotic striptease, you will in fact end up entombed in some eldritch goo for an indefinite length of time, before your flesh, bones and internal organs are unceremoniously sucked out and mashed into a man-meat pulp, leaving you nothing more than a flaccid, floating, rippling bag of skin. With an emotionless smile, she will then once again head out on her endless mission of homicidal seduction, a humanoid Venus flytrap luring hapless males into the deadly snare of her curvy femininity. | AM


(AUDITION; 1999)


After enchanting TV producer Aoyama at a fake audition set up to find himself a new wife, Asami initially weaves the illusion that she’s as polite and submissive as he could have hoped. However, it eventually transpires that beneath her demure exterior beats the heart of an axe-crazy maniac, revealing exactly how she got the injuries that ended her ballet career, what she did to the paedophile responsible, and her previous man-obsession kept alive and mutilated in a sack. With the quiet rage of a scorned woman facing a perceived sex pest, rocking the sexy psycho-surgeon look almost 15 years before American Mary and never once raising her voice in anger, she extols and demonstrates to Aoyama the Inquisitional virtues of unorthodox uses for acupuncture needles and piano strings with both the impassive enthusiasm of an infomercial presenter and the childish delight of a little girl playing with a favourite toy. “Kiri-kiri-kiri-kiri-kiri. Kiri-kiri-kiri-kiri-kiri.” | AM




Sultry torch-song singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) isn't your standard femme fatale, as she is forced into her position by the psychotic, nitrous-inhaling Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), but she embodies all the qualities we have come to expect. With her husband and child held hostage by Frank's team, Dorothy is made to sing in his nightclub as well as act as a depraved sex slave. This doesn't stop her aggressively seducing young Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) at knife-point when he foolishly begins his amateur sleuthing mission. However, even this can't be sustained as she has been indoctrinated by Frank to be submissive, equating pleasure with pain. Despite not being in the situation by choice, she is damn fine as the gangster's moll, and displays all the key tropes of the femme fatale, from her noir-esque appearance; smouldering, alluring beauty to the very dangerous position she puts herself and her prey in. | MU




The first time we hear Varla utter the words, “I never try anything I just do it. Wanna try me?” we’re instantly in love. Then the real nightmare of FPKK begins as Varla leads her gang of rogue, murderous strippers through a violent game of cat and mouse with anyone who crosses their paths. What solidifies Varla as one of the greatest femme fatales of all time is the woman who played her, cult icon Tura Satana (who sadly passed away in February of 2011). Satana performed all of her own stunts and ad-libbed much of her dialogue, filling the movie with gems throughout. Embodying Varla came easy for Satana: not only was she a former go-go dancer who formed her own gang as a teenager, she was a karate and aikido master to boot. Did we also mention she turned down Elvis Presley’s marriage proposal but kept the ring? Yes, she was THAT badass. | VB




Jessica Rabbit is the embodiment of a femme fatale, albeit a toon-version of one. She’s the kind of dame men and rabbits would kill for, and she’s not above using that to her advantage. The plus? Jessica loves her man and would do anything to protect her beloved husband, Roger. Reimagined from the film’s inspiration, Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? Jessica is transformed from a conniving, manipulative ex-wife into a sultry but loyal partner to Roger’s wackiness. Voiced by the equally sexy Kathleen Turner, Jessica first sings her way into our hearts thanks to Amy Irving’s rendition of the Peggy Lee classic, “Why Don’t You Do Right?” and a cartoon legend was born. Even though she’s inspired by classic femme fatales like Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, and Veronica Lake, always remember: Jessica Rabbit isn’t bad, she’s just drawn that way. | VB




In all of comics, has ANY woman got under the skin of a hero like Selina Kyle has with Batman? The poor Bat’s in a tailspin and doesn’t know whether to slap on the batcuffs or ask her for a date. With a history almost as long as Batman himself, Selina Kyle was a originally a cat burglar known simply as The Cat in her 1940 debut in Batman #1, adopting the Catwoman costume and feline persona in later issues. During her varied history (and she looks good for 74) she has also been a rich debutante with an interest in wildlife preservation, thrown out of a high rise office window and revived by stray cats, and reimagined as a reformed hooker. But despite (or because of) her origins she has always had a taste for fetish gear and a soft spot for men dressed as bats. She and Batman are kindred spirits on opposite sides of the law. A quick vote around the STARBURST office showed that no incarnation of Catwoman can be dismissed (not even Halle Berry) but if we have to choose one – then it has to be the slinky, sexy and sassy Julie Newmar. | AP





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